Costuming fabric from past SFU play has new role fighting coronavirus

University Communications & Marketing | 04/01/2020

Bonnie Resinski, costume designer and wardrobe manager with the SFU Center for Fine Arts,  has been finding creative solutions to wardrobe problems for more than 50 years. Now Bonnie has added her sewing ingenuity to providing quality protective masks for local healthcare workers.

How the Project Began

Her most recent project began when she was approached by Renee Powell, a parishioner at Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian church in Revloc, who works at Conemaugh clinics in Ebensburg and Indiana. Renee knew that Bonnie was an expert seamstress, and she asked if Bonnie would sew masks to share the masks with her colleagues.

 Dan Atwood, Director of the SFU Center for Fine Arts,  shared, “We are so proud of and grateful to Bonnie for doing this. It is gratifying to know that some of our old costume fabric has found new life in hopefully helping to save lives. Bonnie has tremendous skill as a costumer, and the only thing that eclipses her amount of skill is her amount of heart."

Treasure Trove of Fabric

Bonnie takes all of her projects seriously so she started with some research. "One of the tutorials says that this is a great thing to make with scraps, but, if it's going to be used in a hospital, they're going to have to be laundered, and they're going to have to hold up to industrial laundry."

 Fortunately, she had yards of fabric leftover from sewing scrubs for the 1998 Saint Francis University  production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.”

 Bonnie tested her durability theory, "I put it through the washing machine to make sure that it was good and then set up a table in my laundry room so I could start making them."

 She had enough fabric for 120 masks that are now being used by local healthcare workers. 

Medical professionals and play cast

Making Masks at Home

For those who would like to make their own masks at home, she gives this advice. 

“There are soooo many tutorials.  I do recommend that people watch some and choose the one that suits their understanding, skill level, time, and supplies. The pattern I used is from the Youtube tutorial on how to sew a mask. Because the ones I made were made from scrubs fabric, I did not use an extra layer of non-woven fabric. According to other videos, it is necessary to include the non-woven material for extra protection. When I tried to find the non-woven Pelon product, all local sources, were out of the item.” 

According to the CDC, there is new advice for everyone to consider wearing face masks when grocery shopping.  A face mask created from the YouTube tutorial is certainly sufficient for such activity. Making masks for oneself, family members, and friends is equally important.  Keeping oneself undercover, and healthy is also a way of helping health care workers because it will lessen their load.